Speaking about growth in the midst of a pandemic was not easy. One feels somewhat out of place to propose that in the midst of so much uncertainty and pain, we should be focusing on growth. What I found, though, is that, barring a few weeks of preparedness (for an impact many of us did not envisage), the conversation about growth became as pertinent as ever.
Some definitions first. Many of us think of growth in terms of what is visible – growth in size, of our team, organisation, sphere of influence. However, growth is a truly organic process. It happens from the inside out, and seldom in a straight line. It is wonderfully rewarding, and is deeply personal. As John Hagel reminds us, it is about becoming.
Our reluctance to speak about growth is rooted in its inherent characteristics – somewhat ironic, what makes growth so meaningful for us, also makes it difficult to share and enlist others.
- It not not easy to broach in conversation about growth, as we know, right below the surface of org. language and metrics, it is deeply personal (and so may expose of deepest desires, sometimes what we can only imagine, to the scrutiny of others)
- It can be socially awkward as those around us may feel unsafe to participate in such deep and forward-looking conversation; and
- It is also an act of commitment. Once our direction of growth is revealed, once we make our aspirations public, we may need to follow though on these. Our ecosystem will become more visible, the strength of our relationships tested, competing interests might arise and short-term rewards may need to be deferred, in our long-term interests
By looking at growth as an act of becoming, we can traverse the thinking and acting involved in growth, into a virtuous learning experience. By focusing on outcomes rather than strict metrics (seen from the present) we may find that reaching for growth can bring ourselves and our teams closer, able to achieve what lies far beyond our plans, and allow us to grow in confidence. Indeed, confidence often grows by the act of growing, not the mere thinking and consideration of it.
The current environment, I would like to argue, while still recovering, is the best time to outline our growth aspirations, to engage in meaningful conversations about where growth may lead us and the broader impact it may have, and to venture collectively beyond our pre-pandemic paradigms and become something new.
The world needs our desire for growth, and whenever you hear the words innovation, reinvention even renewal creep in, know that others may want to grow, as well. It is a conversation waiting to happen and one that is truly worth having.
Have a good weekend everyone!
Saar Ben-Attar (Chief Instigator)
Ascent Growth Partners Manifesto
"I don’t believe anyone can achieve their “full potential” – no matter how much of our potential we achieve, there’s always more potential waiting to be drawn out. The more any of us grow, the more all of us will be able to grow. And the potential for more growth becomes unlimited."